Friday, July 30, 2010

Managing a Company - Talent

10. Talent is a major issue. You either don't have any, or the ones you have will eventually leave.

9. A growing number of quality graduates have tied up their future with big GLCs or multi-nationals.

8. This trend coincides with the lack of enthusiasm for personal enterprise and entrepreneurship amongst quality graduates.

7. Why bother with growing a company when you can hop from one big company to another after just a couple of years?

6. These has resulted in a dearth of talented individuals brave enough to join a start-up or SME.

5. SMEs, like my company, are left with almost nothing from the talent pool when it comes to hiring our staffs. We scrape at the bottom of the barrel. We don't even think of getting those experienced folks from JobStreet. My talent pool lies in

4. Although I do believe that street smart is as invaluable as book smarts, no amount of hard work and perseverance can mask incompetence. And a lot of people who failed in school generally fall into three categories : (a) low IQ (b) low motivation (c) social delinquent. Only some have managed to overcome these challenges.

3. The biggest issue we have is dealing with linear-thinking staffs. They work hard, they mean well, but they cannot and will never see the bigger picture. If A says A, then A it is, without thinking that maybe A has a problem with B and that C is more profitable for A.

2. It's not only about the money that we can offer. I can offer a fresh graduate the same amount he would get in a multinational, but we can't provide other hidden benefits like brand recognition, peer recognition and a social environment that's conducive for their own personal development and growth.

1. However, I have realized one thing. Street smart people can do 80% of what book smarts folks can give at only 40% the cost. In business, this is a crucial factor. Plus, they're more submissive, has less expectations, lower aspiration, and more likely to stay loyal.

I've always wished that this company is filled with me (talk about ego). But then again, I probably wouldn't enjoy managing people like me. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Malaysian Dilemma 01 - Najib's Paradox

Teh o ais limau. Empty, boring mamak. One hour to kill.

1. 1Malaysia, as a concept and aspiration, is necessary for the betterment of all.

2. However, how fast we try to achieve it, must be thought out carefully.

3. Go too slow, and Najib will be deemed as not meeting the growing and vocal demands of the political liberals (predominantly non-Bumi), and probably lose even more ground amongst the non-BN and fence-sitters in the next General Election.

4. Go too fast, and he will lose his own political mileage within UMNO, and with that BN's hope of winning the next GE.

5. He is caught between losing what he has, or losing what he needs to have.

6. The political liberals do have valid points in a lot of their demands.

7. At the same time, they have also failed to understand, or even try to understand, that in politics and life, sometimes being theoretically right is not sufficient. A sense of perspective, and a wider viewpoint, would lead a lot of them to realize that life does not start and end in Kuala Lumpur only.

8. The political conservatives (predominantly Malay) has grown wary and weary with the demands, or rather, the verbalization of demands after years of being used to life as a "protected species".

9. The speed of change, either too fast or slow, may result in a complete failure of achieving a united Malaysia.

10. Push too many things to fast, and a growing number of Malays will suddenly find themselves aligning more and more with the likes of PERKASA, which is far from the ideal scenario for anyone.

11. A segregated and segmented Malay diaspora is slowly taking shape as we speak, and will continue to grow if they cannot find a moderate voice from one single party. This will lead to extremism, fueling political instability within the Malay population, paving the way for a non-dominant political majority. For a growing country aspiring to be recognized as a developed nation, this is a potential banana skin.

12. Push too little things too slow, and by GE 13, there's no hope in hell that the non-Bumis, in particular the Chinese, would ever put Barisan in power.

13. The effect of which would place the potential for a coalition of convenience to be in power. Whether they'd actually result in a united Malaysia is a different matter entirely, especially as a matter of principle one party must claim that anyone who doesn't subscribe to their form of governance would go to hell (no small matter).

14. If only one side just try to understand that, just like Amy Winehouse, rehab is not easy.

15. If only the other side can imagine joining a club but not being allowed to use some facilities, which is open to other types of members, despite paying the same fees and fulfilling the same entry requirements.

16. If 14 and 15 happens, then 1Malaysia will stop just being a catchy slogan, but the new reality for our beloved nation.

p/s: If you're in Najib's shoes right now, what would you do?

Friday, July 23, 2010

10 Things About MLM...

You may not know that I own a direct-selling company. You know, like Amway, Avon, Tupperware. And you probably don't know that another name for direct-selling is Multi-Level Marketing or MLM. Yes, the dreaded 3 letter word in our lexicon.

Not all direct-selling companies are structured for MLM type compensation (although 95% of them are...), but all MLM companies are in fact direct-selling companies. I am not here to explain what is MLM or direct-selling. You can go to the Direct-Selling Association of Malaysia official website (Google it), of which we are one of its esteemed members, and find out more.

I'm just here trying to jot down some thoughts I have about this business, and observation being in the industry, not as a distributor, but the actual owner and chief executive of a running concern. Especially in light of the recent controversies surrounding them.

10. MLM is not a GUARANTEED profit-making business. It is, like any other private enterprise, carries with it the risk of failure. The reason why you hear so many people failing is that the number of people joining is huge. It's recorded that over 4 million Malaysians are registered direct-sellers. Assume that as a general rule, all businesses has a 20% average success rate. Therefore, more than 3.2 million direct-sellers could be considered unsuccessful. So next time you hear someone complaining that they make money off MLM, you know they're part of nature's 80/20 law.

9. Fortunately (or unfortunately), we really cannot determine the exact criteria of a successful MLM-er, meaning that while MLM is definitely not for everyone, we really cannot say who these "everyone" is. From high-school dropouts to PhD. holders, professionals to car wash cleaner, fat to thin, old to young, women to men, married to single, friendly to downright scary...I've seen them all succeed in this business. When you cannot screen prospects, you have to accept everyone, and when you accept everyone, you run the risk of a higher NUMBER of failures (although percentage wise, you're right on par with any other private enterprise).

8. No one is NOT SUITABLE for this business, which means that almost EVERYONE feel that they can do it. And when they feel that they can do it, and then they fail, they automatically assume there's foul play. Reality is that this is NOT an easy business to succeed in.

7. But no business in this world is easy. For some, doing MLM is second nature, and they transition well into the business. For others, it takes time, effort and most importantly, perseverance.

6. Unfortunately, perseverance is not the easiest trait to possess. The barrier to entry for a legitimate MLM business is relatively low. Imagine investing RM 100,000 in your own restaurant. Now imagine investing RM 100 to 1000 to join a MLM business. Which one would be easier for you to quit in? In fact, when you open a restaurant, you're probably expecting not to make money the first 6 months, and you'll still be committed to it. But when you start a low-cost business, it's so easy for anyone to just close shop when they're not making money in the first 6 weeks!

5. Because the barrier to entry is low, and the concept is a bit different, a lot of people don't treat it as a legitimate business. When you don't take the time to strategize, organize, execute and all the other things you'd normally do for a normal business, you start down the path of failure. How many hours do you spend a day running a restaurant? How many hours a day do you spend on your MLM business? See the difference?

4. When the barrier to entry is low, and the potential profit is high, and the number of pax involved is huge, you can generally guess that there's bound to be a group bound on cheating others. Like the doctors that over-prescribed medication, or the lawyer that embezzles your money, no business enterprise is free from cheaters. But in a volume game like MLM, the number of people involved in a scam can multiply like rabbits.

3. Unfortunately, there's no way to determine a legitimate business presentation and a fraudulent one, until the con has been executed. I've had cases where my registered distributor goes around collecting money from people but never delivering the products. As a general rule, any presentation where you don't have to sell a product, should be viewed with caution.

2. People who claim to have failed in this business can be categorized into two categories : those who accept their failures, and those who don't. The latter group, based on our informal survey, either has an unrealistic expectation or did not understand the concept or was deliberately misled by the promoter. Those who did accept, often admitted lack of focus, lack of commitment and lack of effort in the process, from failure to attend training to failure to even try the product they purchased.

1. This business, if done right, and ethically, can result in a beneficial two-way relationship between upline and downline in a huge group that is not only reasonably profitable, but also has a close-knit family-like relationship that goes beyond dollar and cents. Sometimes, I've met people who are perfectly happy to earn an extra RM 500 a month, while I've also met those who RM 50,000 a month from this business is not good enough. To each his own.

A lot more observations on these, and other matters concerning the industry.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wish Someone Told Me In High School...

1. You can be 25 and earn enough to afford a house, two cars and a luxurious life by being a pilot. Why bother with a degree?

2. SPM is important. For bragging, and not much else.

3. There's one place that accepts anyone, guarantees promotion and pay rise, sends you overseas on other people's money and won't ever fire you for incompetence. It's called the Civil Service.

4. What you learn in High School matters jack-shit in the real world. What you learn in University matters only if you turned out to be a lecturer.

5. People who were hot in High School will turn out less than hot 5 years after graduation.

6. If you work in McDonald's straight out of High-School, you'll earn more than your friends who joined a 5 1/2 year law school when they graduate. And you'll probably be smarter too.

7. Only in exceptional cases does the "true love" that you had in High-School leads to long-term relationship. Most will break-up once you start working. Either one of you will be uglier to the other person by the time you enter University.

8. Nobody cares if you're a member of the Leo/Interact/Pengakap/Bulan Sabit Merah/Kelab Sukan...

9. Being a sports star in High School is a precursor to being a failure in almost everything. Only in rare cases have this been proven otherwise.

10. Getting married is the best thing you could ever do.

11. Being monogamous is the worst thing you could ever get into.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

More running, more dieting (less oil, less sugar)

At the time of writing, by tomorrow, we will have to deal with increasing petrol, diesel and sugar prices. Something brief for us to ponder:

1. At an average of 80 litres used per week, the increase is worth RM 4. That is less than a pack of cigarettes.

2. During 2008, when Pak Lah "wisely" increased petrol prices by a whopping 30-40 cents, the roads leading to work (I was with Maxis then) was for most part, relatively smooth. Don't expect the same this time.

3. The real impact will be suffered in the economic cycle involving transportation and manufacturing, which finally will be transferred to consumers. I read somewhere that 75% of petrol consumption is for commercial usage, either in the manufacturing process or transportation.

4. For example, my slimming product, coffee and other consumables has sugar as one of its ingredients. The increase in the price of sugar will be transferred from my contract manufacturer to me. This is not inclusive of the expected revision in transportation charges from the manufacturer to my company.

5. On our part, we then have to adjust our internal cost of transportation. Then we need to factor in the increase in cost to transport the finished goods to the end consumer.

6. Maybe we'll increase our prices, or maybe we won't. That is a business decision that has to be made by almost every company, regardless whether it involves direct product to consumers or others.

7. Even construction, cleaning, even services, would be affected.

8. The normal solution is to transfer the cost to the consumer - increase in the price of your coffee, increase in the price of magazine subscription...

9. So at the pumps, you may be losing only RM 4 a week, but the real cost is being felt whenever you buy some goods, from the frappucino at Starbucks to the raw fish at the local wet market.

10. I am all for a reduction of subsidies, with the savings be better utilized for nation-building (whereby my following write-ups on improving the economy would cover).

11. I too can accept the increase in the prices of consumer goods. But I find it difficult to stomach that prices keep going up, but it never comes down once the subsidy kicks back again.

12. Government shouldn't give and take back subsidies. I think Najib's administration is gradually moving forward with removal of subsidies without putting it back in.

13. Unfortunately, I have doubt that the money saved would be maximized for the benefit of the rakyat - not as long as there exist strong structural defects that allows leakages...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fixing Our Economy 01

This is not the easiest subject to cover. Especially not when this entry is made via Blackberry.

The economy is a lot like our body. If it's sick,you can prescribe it medication,which helps solve the current condition,or you can subscribe to a long-term health program,which may help prevent any other condition from cropping up.

For example,inflation is like high fever. Increasing the interest rate is like panadol. But combining prudent fiscal policy with flexible monetary principle while ensuring stable economic growth is a long term program that sounds easy but often than not,is way harder to implement.

A lot like you being asked to watch your diet, stop smoking, exercise everyday and have a lot of rest etc. Easier said than done.

I'm hearing a lot of intelligent and not-so-intelligent people giving their opinion on our economic situation. More often than not, the "stupid" folks have a better grasp of the underlying problem than over-trained analysts.

I'm triggered to write a bit of this because I'm genuinely filled to the brim with ideas. And at the same time I'm reading Bloomberg BW. Which stimulates my mind to produce ideas.

So its a vicious cycle isn't it?

Which is why I'll write about this gradually over the course of this week.

Sent via BlackBerry from Maxis

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Building a Playlist

Insight: As we all deal with escalating inflation on a lot of things (houses, petrol, cars...), this current generation is also blessed with getting a lot of things for free and with ease - music, news, knowledge... Just something for us to think about.

Anyway, I am now in the midst of building another playlist to accompany my often long and boring commuting schedule. Unlike you cool folks, I don't own an iPod (or its ilk), and by some strange fate my Jap-spec 2005 Nissan Murano has a MiniDisc (anyone still using that?) player but its CD player does not support MP3. So I'm left with the task of actually picking a select number of songs (20 maximum) to fill an actual Audio CD.

I think part of the appeal of building a playlist or mixtape, at its primitive level, is the selection process. I know for a fact that I really do enjoy the challenge. It IS quite a challenge, because just like my very diverse taste in girls, cars and everything else, my musical inclination has so far veered from mellow ballads to heart-thumping trance tracks.

Some folks just pick all the latest downloaded track and burn it, but not me. I actually have a set strategy for building a playlist.

No. 1 - Identify the objective. Night out in town, road trip with friends, date night, road trip with colleagues, family trip, alone trip...all carry very different meaning when it comes to choosing your tracks.

No. 2 - Identify your current mood. Are you depressed, angry, excited, all of the above? It's stupid to play All By Myself if you just broke up, or maybe not? Sometimes all you want is a big tear-jerker to get over someone. Know thyself.

No. 3 - Check the amount of time you'll spent on the road. Is it one continuous playlist? Or are your bar-hopping across town? You can be a bit loose in the arrangement with the latter, but for long distance, you've got to really think hard.

No. 4 - Identify the route. Nothing screams amateur playlist more than one hip-hop track after another when you're in a kampung setting. Get in the mood folks.

No. 5 - Current hits or random selection? Personally, my current hits is 50% Fly FM and 50% Billboard derived so there's a lot of songs you don't hear often and quite a few that brings familiarity to the proceeding.

No. 6 - Identify who's in the car. I thoroughly enjoy sharing a Led Zeppelin/Beatles mixtape with a fellow fan, but I also enjoy exposing something new to the less musically-inclined. So do play that Daughtry track, but immediately follow it up with a bit Kings Of Leon.

No. 7 - Finally, have fun choosing your songs. 80% of the joy comes from listening to a LOT of tunes before choosing your 20. Along the way you'll remember the song you used as your ringtone back in Semester 1, UiTM, or the song that you used to "pujuk" your future wife, or the song that 5 other guys in the car sang along after a boring lecture (it was a Sheila on 7 track...:).

The whole process may seem like a bit of a chore. But if choosing music is a chore, then ladies and gentleman, I am your slave for life.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Grass is Greener

I'm away this week for four days on a roadtour to the North.

In my line of work,occasionally I have to travel and meet my distributors to explain and present on the latest product,among other things. It's a bit like a political roadtour,but without the "duit ehsan".

Nevertheless,the early parts of the roadtour is usually the hardest,especially the being alone part.

I'm not really into spending time outside of work with my staffs or distributors. It's bad for business. It's bad for my mental health.

So I'm usually stuck in a hotel room,with a book,which I usually don't read because somehow,I watch a lot of TV. I guess this is the time where I usually catch up on the crap they show on terrestial tv.

It's lonely.Boring with a capital B.

But yesterday,I met a teacher who wanted to find out how my company's product can help his youngest child battle leukimia (blood cancer).

A nice man,pleasant personality,but there's a profound sadness in his eyes.

Which puts me into my place. I understand what I'm doing is not merely to make money,but to spread our good fortune via our products to people like this teacher.

While I was spending the weekend with the dilemma of choosing what new car to buy,here is a man whose child had to undergo his first chemotherapy session last Saturday.

Oh yeah. The kid's only ONE year and 7 months old. 1 year 7 months. And cancer positive.

Think about that.

Sent via BlackBerry from Maxis

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kenapa Tidak Bahasa Malaysia?

Semalam saya sempat singgah ke MPH Subang Parade yang pada pendapat saya jauh lebih mantap dari Popular Bookstore, Empire. Perbandingan dibuat kerana walaupun saya sudah berpindah ke Shah Alam (kembali ke pangkal jalan, wahai anak Melayu:p), kawasan Subang tetap menjadi pujaan hati.

Kalau hendak diikutkan, pada pandangan subjektif saya, yang terbaik dan paling memenuhi cita rasa selama ini adalah Kinokuniya di KLCC. Rupa-rupanya, tidak semua kedai buku sama. Dari segi koleksi yang dibawa, dan cara penyusunan, masing-masing memberi impak berbeza kepada pengalaman membelek buku.

Tetapi tujuan saya menulis coretan ini bukanlah untuk menceritakan tentang kedai buku, tetapi kebangkitan penulisan dalam Bahasa Malaysia. Saya terkejut melihat koleksi buku-buku Bahasa Malaysia kian bertambah di MPH Subang Parade. Kalau dulu buku Bahasa lebih menjurus ke arah novel jiwang karat yang memenuhi ketegangan seksual terbuku dalam jiwa anak-anak Melayu, kini semakin banyak buku praktikal seperti buku motivasi dan buku perniagaan yang diolah sendiri atau diterjemahkan dari teks Bahasa Inggeris.

Saya teringat lagi perbualan pasca makan malam di Apartment KLCC beberapa tahun yang lalu di mana dalam keghairahan penyokong Pakatan Rakyat berseloroh, dia mempertikaikan kepentingan Bahasa Malaysia. Beliau dengan yakin menyatakan bahawa "BM is dead". Jelas sekali apa yang berlaku sekarang adalah sebaliknya. Dari buku ke majalah, dari blog ke laman web, dari rancangan TV ke muzik, Bahasa Malaysia semakin banyak digunakan.

Saya sering berpendapat bahawa Bahasa mencerminkan bangsa, dan Bahasa tidak membuktikan kebijaksanaan ataupun kebolehan. Malangnya mentaliti masyarakat Malaysia adalah untuk mengagungkan bahasa asing, terutamanya Bahasa Inggeris, sehinggakan pendapat dari tukang cat rumah boleh dianggap "bijak" hanya kerana beliau seorang Inggeris yang bercakap Bahasa Inggeris dengan loghat British.

Saya lihat bangsa Jepun, bangsa Korea, bangsa Taiwan, bangsa German tetap maju dengan kebolehan teknologi dan inovasi walaupun majoriti rakyatnya menggunakan bahasa kebangsaan. Pada saya, adalah lebih penting untuk melihat kepada pembentukan minda kreatif, inovatif dan berani mencuba daripada meletakkan kepentingan 100% kepada kebolehan berbahasa Inggeris.

Masalah lebih meruncing apabila rakyat Malaysia sendiri tidak menganggap bahawa Bahasa Malaysia adalah bahasa kebangsaan. Dan bila dikatakan Bahasa mencerminkan bangsa, ramai yang meletakkan Bahasa Malaysia sebagai Bahasa untuk bangsa Melayu sahaja.

Situasi ini jelas berbeza dari keadaan di Indonesia. Saya difahamkan, walaupun sebenarnya Bahasa Jawa lebih banyak digunakan di seluruh Indonesia, kerajaan telah mengambil keputusan nekad meletakkan Bahasa Indonesia yang diambil dari dialek Melayu Riau. Oleh itu, walaupun Indonesia mempunyai lebih 300 bahasa berbeza, kebanyakan dari rakyatnya menerima dan menggunakan Bahasa Indonesia sebagai perantaraan harian. Kerana itulah orang gaji anda boleh memahami sedikit sebanyak Bahasa Malaysia walaupun mereka dari kampung Jawa. Saya seronok melihat pelajar-pelajar Indonesia yang menuntut di kolej swasta berborak dalam Bahasa Indonesia, walaupun mereka keturunan Cina.

Integrasi inilah yang dicari-cari dalam usaha memantapkan perpaduan rakyat Malaysia. Malangnya, jika rakyat, yang sibuk mahu digelar Bangsa Malaysia, masih ego dan tidak mahu melepaskan mentaliti mendahulukan budaya kaum masing-masing dalam sistem persekolahan nasional, kita tidak akan melihat penerimaan Bahasa Malaysia sebagai bahasa yang mengikat diri kita sebagai satu jiwa dalam satu Malaysia.

Nota: Saya menggunakan Bahasa Malaysia sebab saya rasa itu yang kita harus usahakan. Bukan Bahasa Melayu yang dari bahasa sendiri telah menampakkan sikap eksklusif dan bukan inklusif. Saya juga menulis dalam Bahasa Malaysia sekali sekala untuk membuktikan bahawa kebolehan berbahasa Malaysia tidak melemahkan kebolehan berbahasa asing dan sebaliknya.

Tahukah anda bahawa MPH ditubuhkan oleh salah seorang tokoh Methodist awal di Tanah Melayu. Perubahan nama termasuk Methodist Publishing House yang kemudian menjadi Malaya Publishing House sebelum bertukar ke Malaysia Publishing House. Dalam sejarah yang sudah lebih 120 tahun, MPH tidak pernah dimiliki 100% oleh rakyat Malaysia sehingga Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary membeli MPH pada tahun 2002.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lonely Is...

People often asked if being married is lonelier than not. Maybe because they're up all night with friends, or away to trips here and there, or shagging one women after another. To substitute all these for a lifetime of implied monogamy and less social space is deemed to be lonely.

To me, it doesn't really matter what's your status. Married or not married, single or with a partner, with or without parents.

Because loneliness is a state of being, developed from your thoughts. Now that we share a lot of our thoughts through twitter and fb and other social networking medium, it's not impossible to develop theories on the concept of loneliness based on your twits, comments and status updates.

If you have many friends, and yet you still feel the need for external affirmation (via praise, compliment or seek satisfaction from people commenting on your photos etc.), you are lonely. If you have a lot of activities, and yet still seek more, and cannot stop from inviting yourself to the activities of others, you are lonely. If you join one craze after another, if you hop from one relationship after another, if you can't stop selling yourself short in public, if you like the attention of strangers, you are lonely. No matter how you appear not to be, you are actually lonely inside.

I believe that people can have as many friends as they want and yet be lonely. This is because that true loneliness comes not from the lack of people who recognize you, but from you not really recognizing yourself. Not from people who don't wish you, but from you not wishing yourself. Not from people who don't talk to you, but from you not talking to yourself.

True loneliness comes when you don't acknowledge, and act, like you really want to. It comes from conformity to a norm that you don't really believe in. It comes when you fake your "un-loneliness".

You love sitting by yourself to read books. You enjoy just chilling with your mom watching TV. You absolutely wish you could have 8 hours of sleep every night. And yet...there you go, to Changkat, or wherever the latest hot spot seems to be, with friends whom you smile a fake smile, with partners whom you pretend to find attractive, with people whom you pretend to be impressed with.

Life can be so fulfilling, and not so lonely, once you accept who you really are, and embrace it fully. If who you really are involves a lot of partying, so be it. But if it's not, think hard before saying yes to another drunken night.

Remember, being alone is not the same as being lonely.